Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail

Two hundred years ago, a loose collection of native trails were mapped out to be used as a main thoroughfare from Missouri to the southwest territory in what was to become New Mexico. The route became known as the Santa Fe Trail and over the next century it established itself as America’s first commercial highway.

On February 27th, the Trego Historical Society will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail through the experiences of three women in a presentation from Marla Matkin. She will examine the history of the trail, the daily life of a traveler, their motivations for taking the 900-mile journey, and the dangers the faced along the way.

The Santa Fe Trail

The first recorded journey on the Santa Fe Trail took place in 1821, and a year later the route was officially mapped out to connect its starting point in Franklin, Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. The route followed portions of older Native American trails, the Osage Trace and Medicine Trail and eventually joined the Arkansas River, branching off to follow both sides of the river upstream to Dodge City and Garden City. West of Garden City the branch was known as the Mountain Route, and the Dodge City route became the Cimarron Cutoff or Crossing, or the Middle Crossing. The two branches reconnected near the trail’s conclusion at Fort Union, New Mexico. Today’s U.S. Route 24 and Highway 56 loosely follow the trail and ruts in the earth made from the many wagons and carriages are still visible in several locations along the way, including a place near Great Bend, Kansas.

The long, arduous journey posed many challenges that are unimaginable to us today. Wild animals, dry, barren deserts and steep, rocky mountains, attacks from Comanche and Apache tribes, and scorching summers and bitter cold winter weather made every journey potentially deadly.

“Women on the Santa Fe Trail”

To get a better understanding of life on the trail the Trego County Historical Society will be welcoming back independent scholar and living history performer, Marla Matkin. Her depiction of “Women on the Santa Few Trail” is presented through first-person portrayals of three women who spent up to three months on the trail, providing reminisces of a bygone era and sharing their adventures on the Santa Fe Trails.

Presented by Historian Marla Matkin

Marla Matkin has spent her life studying the history of the Old West and now she shares these stories through the many characters she creates on stage. With a twinkle in her eye and a tantalizing sense of humor, she describes a world where grit and determination won the day.

Matkin traces her roots back to southwest Kansas where in 1877 her great-grandparents claimed a homestead near the legendary pillar of Western lore, Dodge City, Kansas. Today, Matkin calls WaKeeney’s northern neighbor, Hill City, her home and for twenty years she has performed historical program across the United States, including at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, as well as at several National Park Service sites around the nation. She currently serves on the Society of Friends of Historic Fort Hays and the Smoky Hill Trail Association and was an appointee on the Arts and Entertainment Committee for the 200th celebration of the Santa Few Trail.

Matlin’s program will be part of the Trego County Historical Society’s annual Kansas Day celebration program (postponed from January due to COVID). During your visit you can also explore the museum’s large collection of Western artifacts, many of which have been donated by local families to give guests of the museum deeper insight into the history of Trego County.

Please join us at the Trego County Historical Society in WaKeeney on Sunday, February 27th at 2pm for the annual Kansas Day celebration featuring living history performer Marla Matkin’s presentation on “Women on the Santa Fe Trail.”

Geocache Your Way Across Trego County

If your family is looking for a fun, family-friendly adventure, geocaching may be just what you’re looking for! It’s a treasure hunt that will get your family outdoors and working together as you explore to Trego County.

The History of Geocaching

Geocaching is a world-wide interactive challenge designed to mimic a 160-year-old game called letterboxing. Northwest Kansas has been instrumental in the American version of this revived game, with the world’s oldest active geocaching location found at Mingo, Kansas in nearby Thomas County. Established on May 11, 2000, it is also known as GC30 and is the seventh geocache to be placed in the entire world.

How Geocaching Works

Geocaching uses clues and landmarks to lead you to a variety of treasures hidden all over the world, including some of Trego County’s most scenic spots!

To play the game a geocacher begins with an easy-to-use app that can be downloaded to a cell phone, so you’ll have it with you on your journey. It provides the coordinates to take you to a general destination and, once there, it’s on you to search for the prize hidden in bushes, under bridges, under a rock, or anywhere the clues take you. Boxes with trinkets, notes, or codes to the next geocache await you in this fun game, but the real prize is deciphering clues and figuring out the puzzle along the way.

Geocache Rules

Use your eyes, hands, and geocache senses to find the hidden prizes. Cache containers come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, so look for something that seems out of place or in a likely hiding place, like tree hollows, under park benches, and that one spot you’re 100% positive is not the hiding place. Chances are, that’s exactly where the geocache is because the container can be disguised as rocks, bricks, bird houses, or other everyday objects, like a plastic container. The difficulty of the challenge varies from very easy to difficult, so be patient and enjoy the experience.

Tips and Tricks

Geocaches are never buried, so look high, low, underneath, and around objects. Bring your best detective skills and always respect your surroundings. If something must be removed or you have a need to move something to reach the treasure box, always make sure you leave the area the same way you found it.

Be sure to use the app to check the destination’s latest activity because it will often offer clues that can help you figure out the specific spot where the treasure is hidden. Recent logs from other geocachers may contain valuable information such as, “Look under the picnic table to find this one!” or “You’ll find this cache above your head.” Don’t forget to add your own clues to the app and your initials and the date you found the cache to the sheet found inside the box. Then give it the location a happy face or a sad face on the app so others will know how the hunt went for you.

Geocaching in Trego County

Trego County’s geocache adventure will take you to Cedar Bluff State Park where there are 15+ locations, Downtown WaKeeney where you’ll find 10+ locations, 4+ locations in Collyer and 4+ more in Ogallah, and 40+ locations along the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway!

Geocaching in Trego County is a fun family adventure that will get you outside and into nature. Playing the game will challenge you both mentally and physically while you explore the trails that take you through our best historical and geographic areas. And you might even meet some new wildlife friends along the way!  

Don’t Know What to Give This Year? Trego County’s Business Community is Here to Help

The 2021 Christmas shopping season is in full swing! Our WaKeeney stores are bursting with new and exciting products that are ready to be wrapped up and placed under your Christmas tree.

The Trego County business community is here to help those shoppers who are finding it difficult to find the perfect gift for the “hard to shop for” friends and family. Our popular Wampum Bucks program is a fun and flexible gift that allows the receiver to buy for themselves, without the giver missing out on the fun of gift giving.

The Wampum Bucks Shopper

Wampum Bucks are the perfect gift for people who are hard to shop for. They act as gift certificates that can be used at nearly every business in Trego County. They are purchased at a $1 per $1 rate in $5 increments, so it’s easy to fill up those stockings with a gift that will please even the hardest to buy for friend or family member.

Stuff a Stocking with a Great Meal

Treat your parents to a meal out at one of WaKeeney’s great restaurants! Wampum Bucks are accepted at all our county’s restaurants. Whether they want a steak at The Brazen Bull, hot wings at Pizza Hut, or they are an ice cream fanatic who can’t resist a treat from Dairy Queen or McDonalds, a person with Wampum Bucks can visit their favorite establishment and order anything off the menu.

Wampum Bucks can be used anytime throughout the year, with a one year expiration date from the time it’s purchased. There are no limitations or exceptions, so the recipient can save it for a big event, like an anniversary dinner at The Western Kansas Saloon Bar & Grill or a bottle of the latest Shiloh Vineyard wine.  

It can be used to power up in the morning with a fresh baked danish at Hometown Bakery or save it for a summer treat at Gibson’s Healthmart where you can order a hand-scooped sundae at WaKeeney’s only ol’ fashioned sofa fountain.

Wampum Bucks can also purchase products and services. With Wampum Bucks the person who receives them can take advantage of the after Christmas sales at Cottonwood Creations or Newcomer Furniture to find new décor for their home.

Need a service? Wampum Bucks are accepted by businesses as varied as local accountant, plumber, or The Studio 128, where they can book time to explore their own artistic talents. Wampum Bucks are incredibly versatile and are truly the one gift that will never disappoint.

“Stop by the Trego County Treasurer’s Office to pick up Wampum Bucks for all the people on your 2021 Christmas shopping list. You’ll see smiles when they receive the gift and when they use their Wampum Bucks on the products and services they want most in WaKeeney, the “Christmas City of the High Plains!”

Santa Returns for WaKeeney’s 71st Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Santa Claus is coming to town!

The “Christmas City of the High Plains” is celebrating our 71st annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in 2021, and we want to invite you to join us on Saturday, November 27th to ring in the holidays and welcome Santa under the boughs of WaKeeney’s famous Christmas Tree.

Find Something Special at the Christmas Bazaar

Bring your holiday shopping lists to the Trego County Fairgrounds to find gifts for everyone on your “good” list. Trego County’s independent home-based business community will be opening their “stores” at 9am for the 21st Annual Christmas Bazaar. You’ll find handcrafted items, special order products, and so much more!

Photo provided by Trego County Historical Society Museum.

History of the Holidays

The Trego County Historical Society Museum will shine a light on Christmases past through their special holiday display; “Classic Gifts: Bears and Dolls.” Come by to see if your favorite 1970s Barbie or the classic Teddy Roosevelt teddy bear has made it into the exhibition. The museum opens at 10am.

Kansas Travel Author Book Signing

Take a trip without hittin’ the road with Kansas travel writer, Roxie Yonkey. Her recently published “100 Things to Do in Kansas Before You Die” points the way to all the best our state has to offer. (Check out #40 to find out what she has to say about WaKeeney’s Christmas Light Display.) Yonkey will be available for signings at The Studio 128 from 3-5pm.

Win a Prize at the Silent Auction

Don’t forget to bid on the Trego County Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Wreaths during the silent auction. You can take a look at the wreaths and place your bid at The Studio 128 from 3-7pm. The winner will be announced at 7:30pm.

Get a Ticket to Ride

The ticket booth will open at 3pm for a visit to Santa at North Pole Park, a NexTech train ride, and a Christmas wagon ride. These holiday traditions are fun for the whole family and magic for your little Christmas angels.

The train rides and horse drawn wagon rides will begin at 4pm and Santa meets the children at 6:15pm. The tickets will get you into these FREE events faster and make sure everyone gets a turn.

A Community Gathering

Sit down to a warm bowl of soup and lively conversation at the VFW Soup Supper from 4:30-7pm at the VFW Hall. The chefs are bringing a variety of steaming homemade soups for the community to enjoy together.  

Shopping in Downtown WaKeeney

Get ahead of your Christmas shopping by visiting the stores of Downtown WaKeeney. They will be open into the evening to welcome shoppers from near and far. Santa’s Workshop will be set up in participating stores from 5-8pm, with treats and fun for the kids.

A Visit from Santa’s Team of Reindeer

Take the kids to see Santa’s reindeer on Main Street. They will be there throughout the celebration to provide an insider’s look at the way Santa flies around the world quick as a wink on Christmas Eve.  

The Christmas City of the High Plains

As the sun begins to fall take a moment to look around at the beautiful light display that is 71 years in the making. From its humble beginnings in 1950, this display has been refurbished and added to, without deviating from the original concept first created by former WaKeeney businessmen Art Keraus and Jake Heckman. Today, the display includes over 6,800 string lights, 11K yards of greenery, and the recently added LED perimeter lights that are visible all year long all along the tops of the Downtown buildings.

Santa Comes to Town

Who but Santa could we call on to light such a monumental Christmas display? Our 35-ft. Christmas tree is the focal point of our town, with lights that expand out to the four corners of Downtown WaKeeney. Arriving at 6pm to the sound of Christmas carols courtesy of the Trego Community High School band, Santa will flip the switch on our light display and greet the families with warm a Christmas message direct from the North Pole.

A Visit with Santa

Don’t forget your Christmas wish list for your visit with Santa at North Pole Park! It’s decorated on the outside and warm on the inside, just like Santa himself. Your kids will always remember their moment with Santa at North Pole Park.

While you wait your turn, take some selfies behind our snowmen and elf cutouts for a fun memory of Christmas 2021. North Pole Park is open all year for visitors to enjoy the Christmas spirit, but Santa only appears during our special Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, so don’t let your kids miss out on their moment with the “big guy!”

Rev Up Your Holiday Spirit in the “Christmas City of the High Plains”

Mark the date, Saturday, November 27th, to ring in the holidays underneath WaKeeney’s famous Christmas tree. It’s a chance to gather together, share memories, and create traditions your family will want to pass down through the generations at the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in WaKeeney, Kansas!

Outdoor Channel & Fishing Network to Broadcast the “Fishing University’s” Expedition at Cedar Bluff State Park

Cedar Bluff State Park has a well-earned reputation as Northwest Kansas’s top fishing spot for walleye, crappie, wipers, and several species of bass.  The grasses, trees, and deep-water environments allow these species to flourish and grow big, which makes Trego County a “must experience” for fishing enthusiasts around the nation.

Fishing University Hosts Charlie Ingram and Ray Braizer

TV’s Fishing University Trolls the Waters of Cedar Bluff State Park

The people from the television series the Fishing University (found on the Outdoor Channel and Fishing Network) decided to record their experience fishing Cedar Bluff to give their viewers an insider’s glimpse into the opportunities they’ll find when trolling the Trego County lake. Hosts Charlie Ingram and Ray Braizer teamed up with local guide Steve Hausler, biologist Keith Harmoney, and game warden Klint VonFeldt of the Hays Bass Anglers Association to hit the water and hook the “big one.”

The show spent three days exploring the best fishing spots for largemouth, black, spotted, and white bass. They brought their television crew, and, with the guides’ help, they had a very successful trip and got lots of great footage to share with their audience.

Ingram and Brazier Visit TCHS

While in Trego County, Ingram and Brazier stopped by Trego Community High School to talk to the TCHS students about the importance of higher education. They encouraged students to pursue their interest in the outdoors through careers in a variety of fields related to outdoor recreation and assured them of the many job opportunities awaiting them upon graduation from a college or university.

Fishing University

This year,Fishing University celebrates 35 years of teaching the world how to be a successful freshwater fisherman. They broadcast to millions of viewers across all 50 states and in more than 51 countries around the world, showcasing new and time-tested products and offering insider tips and techniques that will help their audience become better anglers at the best places to fish in the USA.

The episode featuring Cedar Bluff State Park is set to air on the Outdoor Channel on the Saturday after Christmas. (The World Fishing Network schedule is still being determined.) You can find out more on the official Fishing University website or check your local television listings for more information.

A Wine Tasting Walking Tour of WaKeeney’s Historic Homes

When you live in a pedestrian friendly town like WaKeeney, the streets are yours to explore. WaKeeney Travel & Tourism, along with help from the Trego Historical Museum and citizens of our town, have made that walk an adventure with twenty-two art installations that act as markers to present the history of Kansas and the “Christmas City of the High Plains.”  

The “Historic Home Wine Walk”

Put on your walking shoes and enjoy a Sunday stroll tasting Kansas made wines from Rosewood Winery, Resurrection Vineyard, and Trego County’s own Shiloh Vineyard during the “Historic Homes Wine Walk” on Sunday, September 26, from 2-5pm!

Eight of the twenty-two “Tour of Trees” homes are included in the wine walk and a private host or hostess will be waiting for you at each stop to assist in the tasting experience. Take a moment to examine the interesting stories told on the Christmas trees and learn about Trego County’s long history as a frontier city on the Great Plains, from its early days of settlement to the modern era. A highlight of the tour is the home of the doctor who treated the notable frontiersman Wild Bill Hickock. Begin your journey at The Studio 128 where you can pick up a map and get tips on tackling this tasteful escapade.  

The “Tour of Trees”

Altogether, the markers create a walking route called the “Tour of Trees.” Made of metal cut in the shape of miniature Christmas trees, they act as signposts providing information about the home and our city’s nearly 150-year-old history.

Downtown WaKeeney’s businesses have also contributed to this project, purchasing larger, three-dimensional trees that are decorated with images and historical trivia about Kansas and WaKeeney.

WaKeeney's Historic Homes Wine Walk

Enjoy a Walk in the Christmas City of the High Plains!

The “Tour of Trees” is a self-guided tour that can be undertaken anytime. Maps are available at The Studio 128, the City Building, and the Historical Society.

The “Historic Homes Wine Walk” includes the wine tasting experience and the walking map for $30, plus tax. Reserve your spot before September 20th by contacting WaKeeney Travel and Tourism (785) 743-8325 / getwakeeney@gmail.com, or The Studio 128 at (785) 814-7170 / thestudio@eaglecom.net, then enjoy a beautiful fall day walking down the avenues of WaKeeney, Kansas!

Making the Move to Live in Trego County

The word’s out! Life in a small town offers people of every age a healthy lifestyle, lots of activities, and a community of friends.

New Trego County residents are finding these very qualities right here in our rural community. We wanted to dig a little deeper into their experience and find out why they chose our county as their new home. Here are a few of their answers.

What were you looking for when you decided to move to a small town?

New residents state that living in a small town offers a sense of peace and quiet that can’t be found in a city. You know your neighbors and feel safe in your community. People band together to support each other when needed and you can always count on a helping hand.

They also found that, since resettling in Trego, their family has more time to enjoy the great outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine are in abundance and fun and adventure is always available right outside their own front door.

What convinced you that Trego County was the place you wanted to call homes?

WaKeeney, Trego’s county seat, was cited as one of the factors in many new residents’ decision to move because it is a well-kept town with all you need to live and thrive–grocery and hardware stores, medical facilities and pharmacies, beauty salons and clothing stores, a post office, and many delicious restaurants. The business community is welcoming and always helpful when you enter their store.

Along with the business community, the city received the endorsement of our new neighbors. Residents liked that the recreational infrastructure was recently upgraded to now include the WaKeeney Water Park, many beautiful parks, and a recreational facility with a weight room and indoor tennis court. A variety of churches with active congregations are welcoming to newcomers and the local school district provides a sound educational experience for their children. When you want to explore the area, Interstate 70 provides easy access to the other towns in our region.

What surprised you about living in Trego County?

The friendly, welcoming nature of our community is one of the first qualities may new residents cited as their biggest surprise. When shopping in Downtown WaKeeney you get a friendly greeting everywhere you go. This sense of community foretells the level of support people often receive in times of need.

Another nice surprise cited by our new neighbors is the amount of support they received from the local government services, such as the sanitation and water departments, the library, the fire department, and law enforcement. Access to services is easy to gain without the typical wait times peoples in large cities often must endure.

What do new residents enjoy most about living in Trego County?

There’s always something going on in our rural community. Baseball, tennis, frisbee golf, and many more activities are available to anyone who wants to challenge themselves or their friends and family.

Throughout the summer, the WaKeeney Water Park will cool you down, while the Wakeeney Speedway and Mini Speedway will get your pulse racing. Only a few miles down the road, Cedar Bluff State Park offers hiking, camping, geocaching, and boating, or hit the links with friends at Big Creek Golf Course. Golfers often join in the tournaments that are regularly scheduled during the warmer months.

When fall arrives you’ll hear the local high school band playing was the TCHS football team takes the field, and out in the country the sound of wild game will draw out the hunting enthusiasts.

Throughout the year, our large annual festivals bring our community together and draws in people from across the Northwest Kansas region. In Spring, we welcome back our most unusual residents during the Buzzard Bash, with activities happening around town and culminating with a street dance on Main Street. The Trego County Free Fair is the highlight of the summer, and our famous Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony has become a cherished holiday tradition for many families on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

What obstacles did you face during your move?

While the big Western Kansas skies offer remarkable weather watching, it takes a bit of time to acclimate to the sometimes severe weather experienced on the High Plains, but eventually everyone does get used to it and the amazing sunrises and sunsets Trego County is known for occur nearly every day.

Camping in Trego County

Medical specialists are not locally based and there are only two doctors on staff at the local hospital, but a quick thirty-minute ride on I-70 will get you to the region’s largest medical center for treatments. For some of our new residents, this is nearly as fast or even faster than they experienced in the city they moved from because there in no traffic.

What are your favorite things to do in Trego County?

Each person we spoke to described something different when asked this question. Answers ranged from exploring the countryside and the nearby geological landmarks, fishing or waterskiing at the lake, or working on a community project. Wherever they turn, residents told us they find new ways to entertain themselves and connect with their new neighbors and friends.

Do you have a special memory that you’ve made since moving to Trego County?

Our new residents mentioned that since moving to Trego they feel “like we moved home.” Small towns are built around the idea that a strong community comes from the bonds we form with our fellow citizens and that was something they felt early on as they began to meet lifelong Trego County residents. The slower pace allows all of us to enjoy those relationships and let them grow naturally. Kids have the freedom to find their own way around town and families can enjoy more time creating wonderful memories doing things together, rather than constantly driving their kids to activities. In WaKeeney, dance class, baseball practice, or piano lessons are just a few blocks away.

What do you tell your friends at your previous home about living in Trego County?

Living in Trego County offers retirees and families plenty of activities to enjoy, without the expensive cost of living in a city. Beautiful parks and a busy downtown business community illustrates the pride WaKeeney’s residents have in their community and the schools benefit from strong community support.

Trego County is a safe place to live, where children grow up with the freedom to ride their bike around town and play in the park for hours on end. A thriving extra curriculum program through the Trego Recreation Center and artistic and musical mentors based in the schools, businesses, or their homes are available for people, young and old, to help them grow their talents and skills. There’s alwasy something fun to do or a way to be included in our town!

Com and explore Trego County and find out for yourself why our community is a great place to call home!

The Trego County Free Fair Brings Amusement Rides to Northwest Kansas

Come one, come all to the Trego County Free Fair on Tuesday, July 13th to Saturday, July 17th! 

Fair week is nearly here and it’s promising to be one of the most exciting weeks yet. We’ve filled the schedule with fast cars, big prizes, delicious food, and thrilling rides. Now all we need is you!

Join us to celebrate the spirit of “Country Roots and Cowboy Boots” at the Trego County Free Fair!

Exhibits and Open Class Competitions (July 13th to July 17th)

Vendors and exhibitors arrive on the Trego County Fairgrounds on Tuesday. Enter your best locally produced products and livestock in competitions that will decide who goes on to represent Trego County at the Kansas State Fair. 

WaKeeney Speedway (July 13th & 14th)

Racing during Fair Week is back and better than ever this year, with two exciting nights of fast competition at the WaKeeney Speedway Racetrack. This high-octane event features modified and sport mods. Get there early with a pit pass to see the cars up close and meet the drivers.

Free Music Throughout the Week

Get your dancin’ boots on for four nights of great music!

  • Wednesday, July 14th – “Hard to Handle” Military Rock Band from the 35thInfantry Division Band of the Kansas Army National Guard at 5:30pm and DJ Gina at 7pm.
  • Thursday, July 15th – Fabrizius & Company, featuring Trego County’s Isaiah Fabrizious at 9pm.
  • Friday, July 16th – Buckner Creek Band following the Demo Derby.
  • Saturday, July 17th – NW Kansas’s Lucas Maddy & the Kansas Cartel on the big stage from 8pm to Midnight.

Garry Moore’s Amusements!!! (Wednesday, July 14th to Saturday, July 17th)

Trego County is proud to offer a Midway full of thrilling carnival rides and games. Come out to support this exciting tradition and enjoy all the sights, sounds, and tastes of Garry Moore’s Amusements. Take a turn on The Zipper, Top Gun, Expo Wheel, or Starship 3000. From hi-tech rides to the traditional carousel, there’s something for everyone on the Midway.

ATV Rodeo (July 15th)

Let the dirt fly! The ATV Rodeo will be digging into the dirt and churning up a ton of fun for participants and spectators alike. Riders will perform daring feats on their quads to demonstrate the versatility of the machine and the skill of the driver.

Demolition Derby (July 16th

Bang! Crunch! Scrape! Thump! The hard-riding drivers of WaKeeney’s Demolition Derby will be back in their cars to thrill spectators with destruction and victory. Superstock, compact, and old school compact cars go head-to-head in this exciting competition.

Elaine Weigel Memorial Kids Power Wheel Derby (Friday, July 16th)

Little drivers will get their chance to ride their way into pint-sized fame in the Elaine Weigel Memorial Kids Power Wheel Derby. This event will be held during the intermission of the Demo Derby and the cuteness will live on long after the checkered flag is waved.

TCHS Alumni Reunions

The Alumni Reunion tent will be ready to welcome all the past graduates of TCHS and their families. Reconnect with old friends and share a beer while listening to music for the good ol’ days on the free stage. 

Trego County Fair

The Fair Week Parade (Saturday, July 17th at 10am)

Wrap up Fair Week at the annual parade when our citizens march through the streets of Downtown WaKeeney. Our Grand Marshall this year is Dr. Gordon Lang, who has served our community tirelessly throughout the 2020 COVID pandemic. He’ll lead the parade down of bikes, motorcycles, antique and souped-up cars, farm equipment, and colorful floats down our Main Street and ring in a daylong celebration of fair week.

The Trego County Chamber of Commerce will be organizing activities on the Trego County Courthouse Square from 9am to 4pm on Saturday, July 17th. The party continues after the parade, with games and activities sponsored by local businesses and organizations. A beer garden and craft vendors from the fairgrounds will be on the courthouse lawn where there’ll be plenty of room for socializing and picnicking with friends.

2021 Trego County Free Fair

Cowboy Extravaganza (Saturday, July 17th)

Relive the early days of Trego County, when ranchers spent their days working cattle at the Cowboy Extravaganza!

Stray Gathering (4pm)– Yippee-ki-yay, cowpokes! Get your gear and join us for the Stray Gathering competition. This unique event demonstrates the amazing teamwork required between a horse and rider to bring in a herd. A free hot dog fee sponsored by the Trego County Farm Bureau Assoc. will follow.    

Ranch Rodeo (6pm)

Cowboys and cowgirls of all ages can participate in the Ranch Rodeo event, where challenges give insight into the everyday workings of ranch life. A Kids Boot Scramble will even get the little wranglers involved in the fun. This event is sponsored by Bootleggers of Jetmore, KS. 

County fairs are a celebrated historic tradition throughout Northwest Kansas. This year we have even more to celebrate as we make memories with family and friends. So come on out and get in on the fun at the Trego County Free Fair!

Spend Your Summer at WaKeeney’s Swimming Pool Park

Visiting parks during the summer months provides endless hours of fun in the sun. If you’re looking forward to spending your summer lying under the shade of a tree, playing games on a lush, green lawn, or letting your kids run off their energy on safe play structure, we suggest WaKeeney’s Swimming Pool Park!

The WaKeeney Swimming Pool Park has a long history of providing outdoor fun for area families and has become an outdoor oasis with a full day’s worth of activities for every person in your family.

Play Areas for Everyone

The playground equipment is a combination of fun and challenging climbs, slides, tunnels, and swings that are all placed inside a play-safe area with a bark chip ground cover. The different play structures are geared toward varying age groups, from toddlers to big kids, and a low-profile boarder wall surrounds the area to help parents keep their youngest children inside and easily seen. Park benches around the perimeter let parents enjoy their time watching their kids run off extra energy while they enjoy a book or conversations with friends.

A sand volleyball pit and a basketball court are on site for pick-up games between teens and adults and can be accessed any time of day. Get your best players together and bring your ball down to the park for a quick, fun workout.

Take a Stroll Through the Park

The recent installation of a walking trail has added another way to get some exercise in while you’re at the park. The sidewalk is flat and paved, so senior walkers and strollers experience a safe and smooth stroll under the beautiful shade trees.

Picnic Shelters For Celebrating

When hunger strikes, unpack your picnic baskets under one of several shelters. There are enough picnic tables for a family reunion or birthday party. Call the WaKeeney City building to reserve one for your summer gathering. (785.743.5791)

Beautiful Landscaping

Long stretches of lush lawns are found throughout the grounds to allow for tag, Simon Says, and other classic summer games. Bring your equipment and set up your own lawn games in these wide-open spaces. They are big enough for people to host badminton, cornhole, horseshoes, or croquet all at the same time!

Ready for Comfort and Ease of Use

There are facilities on site in the park, including a modern bathroom building and handicapped parking and accessible sidewalks. 

The WaKeeney Swimming Pool Park and Water

Spend the summer in WaKeeney at our new and improved Swimming Pool Park! From dawn to dusk, it’s fun for the whole family, and when the weather gets too hot, grab your bathing suit and head over to the WaKeeney Water Park to enjoy a dip in our swimming pool. It features a three-story water slide, zero-entry access for the little dippers, a dump bucket and sprinklers, lap lanes, and a deep end to explore. 

Spend your summer at WaKeeney’s Swimming Pool Park, where you’ll find a full day of fun in the sun under the shady trees of one of our city’s beautiful parks!

Trego Historical Society Museum Celebrates Our Ancestors with Two Unique Exhibits

Honoring the perseverance, resilience, and sacrifice of our ancestors is an American tradition on Memorial Day. To shed light on these inspiring stories, the Trego County Historical Society Museum is currently hosting two exhibits that takes a look at life in a rural community and recreating a monument to Trego County men and women who have service our nation. 

Crossroads: Change in Rural America

The Trego County Historical Society Museum has joined with five other Northwest Kansas museums to host a special Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit, called Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Our installation coordinates with the main Smithsonian exhibit that is on display at the Gloria Nelson Cultural Arts Center in Norton, Kansas from May 1stto June 13th. As part of the larger five-part, regional exhibit, WaKeeney’s installation, along with Hoxie, Oberlin, Colby, and Goodland, explores the future and sustainability of small towns through the local events that have affected our Northwest Kansas communities. Local exhibitions, public programs, online resources, and the Smithsonian exhibition is meant to inspire thought-provoking questions as we consider the future of America’s rural communities. 

During your visit to WaKeeney’s museum, don’t forget to pick up an exhibit passport to collect stamps while visiting the other participating museums. Once you’ve filled your passport, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a prize awarded by the participating sites. 

The Veterans Honor Roll

The Trego County Museum has recently been busy recreating a military monument that once stood in Downtown WaKeeney’s Courthouse Park on the corner of Russell and Main.

The original Trego County Honor Roll was built in 1944 by the WaKeeney Lions Club to honor the men and women who served in World War II.  The memorial included over 600 names of those that served during the war. In the late 1960’s, the Honor Roll was replaced with a new memorial under the direction of the WaKeeney Jaycees.  This memorial still stands in the courthouse square.  

The 16’ x 10’ replica is constructed of wood, with a marble stucco design that resembles the original honor roll from the 1940’s.  The new Honor Roll will include the names of those that served from Trego County, starting with WWI to the present day.  

Accompanying the monument is a Roll Call book with each service member’s name, years served, and their military branch. The exhibit will be a permanent addition to the military collection at the museum and curators are currently gathering names to add to the board. Some records are unavailable, so if you would like to add the name of your loved one, please, contact the museum to find out how.

The Trego County Historical Society Museum is open Tuesday – Friday 10am to noon and 1pm to 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday by appointment. In May, the museum is open on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. and will be open on Memorial Day from 11am to 3pm.